Pregnant women in the U.S. are increasingly drinking alcohol — even binge drinking. According to new research from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about one in nine pregnant women ages 18-44 reported that they were drinking while pregnant, and 3.9 percent said they had been binge drinking in the past 30 days.
Question: What is the difference between regular drinking and binge drinking?
If you’re having more than seven drinks a week or over five drinks during an event, like at a party, a nice dinner or just relaxing at home, you’re actually binge drinking. In a recent study by the CDC, almost 4 percent of pregnant women reported that they were binge drinking about four-and-a-half times a month — basically every weekend. And in the same study that included almost 7,000 women between the ages of 18 and 44, more than 11 percent described themselves as casual drinkers.
Question: How can drinking hurt the baby?
During pregnancy, your baby is growing and developing all the time. And when you drink alcohol, it’s just the same as if you gave your unborn baby an alcoholic drink. But, because they’re so tiny, the alcohol breaks down more slowly and stays in their bodies a lot longer. And all the while their brains and nervous systems are developing. In fact, drinking while pregnant has long been linked to a wide range of negative health outcomes for infants. This can include fetal alcohol-related disorders, including possible birth defects, impaired intellectual development and behavioral problems. And the risk of stillbirths and miscarriages also rise.
Question: Women often don’t even know they’re pregnant for the first month or two. What can they do if they were drinking during that time?
Well, the most important thing, if a woman is trying to conceive she should stop drinking to prepare for pregnancy. And if she’s already pregnant, then she should stop drinking immediately. Because no amount of alcohol is safe, especially during the first three months. Now if she’s having a problem giving alcohol up, there are lots of resources available. She can talk to her family doctor or her OB-GYN. She can also reach out to a local Alcoholics Anonymous group, or find a local alcohol treatment center for extra support.